I just finished adding a lot of personal finance and small business accounting software to the database and thought it would be a good time to do a brief post on the state of the available Linux options. Accounting software is one of those frequently quoted as being a limiter in switching from Windows to Linux. Intuit's Quicken and Microsoft's Money are clearly the leaders in personal finance and supported by most banks, while Intuit's QuickBooks program is often cited as the app for small businesses. Unfortunately, none of these have a Linux version. So where does that leave us Linux users?
Fortunately, there are alternatives. Quicken, Money, and QuickBooks can all be run as is under Linux using the Wine program. Wine allows native Windows apps to be run on Linux, but there's a catch, not all programs work and some only partially do. While there are exceptions, one of which I will mention later in this post, most software vendors do not support this and will not fix a Wine related issue. Different versions of each program will also behave differently. For a quick look at what level of success others have had, check out the Wine Application Database. There is also a commercial program available called CrossOver Office that aims to make it easier to use Wine and specifically focuses on getting popular apps supported.
As you can see, there are a lot of compromises with the aforementioned soultion, so it's not for everyone. This is where a growing list of native Linux and supported on Linux apps come in. This is not meant to be a review of these apps so I won't be drawing any conclusions about them or spending time talking about each individually, but it should give you a good place to start in order to find the one that fits for you.
Gnucash is probably the most well known and is joined by a slew of other apps as the free entrants into the field. Grisbi, jGnash, KMyMoney, Kurush, Lazy8 Ledger, PLCash, Qhacc, and Quasar Accounting are all traditional finance apps that are great for either home or small business use.
Moneydance is an intriguing, professionally done app that is supported on Windows and Mac OS X in addition to Linux. It isn't free, but then again, neither are Quicken, Money, or QuickBooks. Another non-free app, and one just added to the database this week, is Kapital, a personal finance manager designed for use with KDE.
The remaining three apps currently in the Linux App Finder database are non-native apps. TurboCASH is a new addition this week, and is fully supported on Linux, but requires Wine to run. The other two are SQL-Ledger and MyPhpMoney, both of which sport web interfaces.
With such a broad field to choose from, the chances are you will be able to find the features you need. However, if you already use one of the Windows apps, the biggest roadblock to switching remains retraining. Getting the basic double entry accounts set up and used shouldn't be a difficult transition, but more advanced reporting and budgeting may be more challenging.
If you've tried any of these apps please share your experiences and let us know how you think they stack up.